By What Standard is Incest Wrong?

Virginia Law

Title page to the earliest statutes governing Virginia, firmly based upon biblical law.


That’s not a title for a subject I ever thought I’d have to write about on this blog, but there it is.  Sadly, we have to openly ask such a question in America in 2016.  What prompted a cultural discussion about incest is a story which has now gone viral about a mother-son New Mexico couple who are prepared to fight a legal battle (and do whatever else it takes) to be together.  Authorities in the State became aware of their relationship and are cracking down.  Now there’s a court order instructing them to stay away from each other, but they’re determined to continue their illicit relationship whatever the cost.  There’s even a “support and advocacy” organization giving aid to this incestuous duo.

Any of this sound familiar?

Over a decade ago, many Christian and conservative commentators warned that the cultural acceptance of homosexuality would necessarily open the door to acceptance of behaviors like polygamy and incest.  I was one of those giving such commentary.  As soon as the warning was uttered, the one speaking it was shouted down and accused of engaging in a “slippery-slope fallacy.”  Well, the slope is here and the whole country is about to slide down.  Last year’s Obergefell decision by the Supreme Court to effectively legalize same-sex “marriage” gave a boost to legal efforts to legalize polygamy.  The popularity of television shows like “Big Love” and “Sister Wives” are also aiding in normalizing of this behavior.  And after polygamy, incest is apparently the next frontier.

In my humble opinion, it won’t be long before polygamy is culturally accepted in America.  Legally speaking, it’s the next shoe to drop.  The media and entertainment industries will continue to fuel its acceptance much like they did for the homosexual and “transgender” movements.  A bit further down the road, we’ll see the same thing happen with those who practice incest.  The propaganda and talking points will emulate the homosexual movement almost verbatim.  I can hear it now:

“Hey, Josh.  Why are so opposed to this?  They’re consenting adults.”

“So what if he has multiple wives?  How is their relationship affecting your marriage?”

“How are you affected by this woman’s relationship with her father?  Just because you find it icky doesn’t mean it should be illegal.”

“Hey, I thought conservatives were against big government.  Why are you in favor of them intruding into people’s bedrooms?”

And I could go on.  As you can see, we can literally write the talking points for them.  It’s the same strategy just with different forms of sexual depravity.  But how did we get here and why is our culture so rapidly going into free fall?  This is the direct consequence of Western civilization’s wholesale abandonment of a Christian worldview.  Yes, this is what happens when you abandon Scripture as the authoritative standard for conduct in society.  The increasingly dominant Secularism is not going to provide a coherent sexual ethos other than, perhaps, a loosely-defined “consent only” ethic.  As long as there are consenting adults involved, all is well.  But even the issue of consent itself is increasingly open to question.

Can a professing atheist or agnostic argue against incest?  He can’t.  There is no standard to which he can appeal.  All he has are his own personal tastes and preferences.  That’s it.  Who is he to judge and by what standard?  The Christian, by contrast, can appeal to the transcendent authority of God’s revealed word.  It is not only a standard, but an infallible one.  He can look to Leviticus 18 where incest is condemned by the Lord as sin.  More foundationally, the Christian points to Genesis 2:18-25 and Matthew 19:4-6 as God’s positive affirmation of what marriage is supposed to be.  It is God alone who created our sexuality and defines its boundaries.  Nowhere in the Scriptures does He positively affirm polygamy, incest, or same-sex relationships.  The boundaries are clearly marked.

When a society ceases to acknowledge God as creator, sustainer, and lawgiver in order to pursue their own mythical autonomy, we get exactly the kind of moral chaos we see today.  The fact that this is happening so quickly is a testament to the swift judgment that is upon our culture as we speak.  As it says in Romans 1, we’re being given over to depraved and futile thinking.  As a society, we’ve lost the ability to reason about even the most basic of moral issues.  There may be a consensus that the incestuous relationship of this mother and son causes our stomachs to turn, but there’s no consensus regarding a standard by which we can judge their conduct.  As Dostoevsky reminded us, there is no moral standard without God–all things become permissible.

As we continue to trudge through the 21st century, we need to be reminded that this situation is nothing new for the church.  The people of God have seen this kind of thing before.  Just as the church survived (and even thrived) under the rule of the sexually immoral Roman Empire, so too will she survive a sexually immoral United States of America.  The pressure to conform and affirm will be immense, but Christ calls us to be faithful.  Even when the chaos threatens to undo us, may the remnant in America represent a solid rock that will outlast this present culture.

This entry was posted in apologetics, culture, homosexuality, marriage, Scripture, Secularism. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to By What Standard is Incest Wrong?

  1. Great and beautifully timed post, brother. It is so scary to think of just how far the U.S. will take this “new morality.” How far will the liberals push? And you are absolutely right, we will outlast the culture, because God goes before us!!

    * Just a side note on your last paragraph…..I believe you want to say “As we continue to trudge…..” Looks like you forgot the word “to” (-:

  2. Jeff says:

    Josh, you stated that “This is the direct consequence of Western civilization’s wholesale abandonment of a Christian worldview.”
    I do agree with you in this way, Western civilization continually abandons the True Christianity view; however, Western civilization was founded mostly under the eyes of a Protestant view of Christianity that includes the Idea that Marriage is not a Sacrament.
    Josh dose this change in teaching have an effect the understanding of marriage?
    I think so, for people were looking at the Church for the understanding of what marriage is and then they started looking at the government for their understanding.

    • I disagree with you entirely. I don’t think attaching marriage to a sacramental system strengthened it or gave it any more meaning than it otherwise would have. Biblically, marriage is a common grace institution. If anything, the biblical teaching of marriage strengthened the institution because it could then be seen as a universal truth recognized by everyone in every society at all times. Moreover, people didn’t cease looking to the church simply because marriage was no longer part of a sacramental system. I think that’s a bit of a stretch.

      • Jeff says:

        So you don’t agree the Western civilization was found though mostly a Protestant View of Christianity.
        You don’t agree that people changed their view about what Marriage is when they stopped looking to the Church and started looking at the government to understand what marriage is.
        Yet you agree the Marriage change from being a Sacrament (as some Church’s still teach) to the new view of marriage, seeing it as “a good and holy ordinance from God.” It was not, however, a sacrament any more than farming, building, or barbering, which were also ordinances, “for it is required that a sacrament be not only a work of God but an outward ceremony appointed by God to confirm a promise. Even children can discern that there is no such thing in marriage.”

    • With all due respect, Jeff, I can’t respond to much of your last post here because it is so disjointed and incoherent. Who and what are you quoting here?

      To be sure, I don’t think Protestantism is representative of the whole of Western Civilization. It made a huge impact to be sure, but I wouldn’t argue that the West itself is a product merely of the Protestant tradition. Certainly the modern West is not a product of it at all, but rather a product of rampant Secularism.

      • Jeff says:

        To clear thing up.
        Do you agree that Marriage is no longer a Sacrament in the eyes of most in Western Civilization?
        Do you agree that King Henry VIII started the Church of England, because the Church would not let him to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he can marry Anne Bolyn?
        Do you agree Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation in Germany when he declared that only the Bible is the source of all faith/belief so religion is just between man and the Bible; there was no need for the Pope, bishops, priests, etc?
        Do you agree John Calvin, who started Calvinism during the Protestant Reformation, where Calvinism said that everyone is going to hell but only a few chosen ones, graced by God, will go to heaven, those chosen ones are going to heaven no matter what. Also, you can tell who is chosen or not; the chosen ones will be good, upright citizens. This will later lead to the puritans that helped settle America.

        My thoughts, Calvin used Protestant principles to establish a religious government; and in 1555, he was given absolute supremacy as leader in Geneva. While instituting many positive policies, Calvin’s government also punished “impiety” and dissent against his particularly spare vision of Christianity with execution. In the first five years of his rule in Geneva, 58 people were executed and 76 exiled for their religious beliefs. Calvin allowed no art other than music, and even that could not involve instruments. Under his rule, Geneva became the center of Protestantism, and sent out pastors to the rest of Europe, creating Presbyterianism in Scotland, the Puritan Movement in England and the Reformed Church in the Netherlands.

        This brought the NEW (False) Teaching that Marriage is not a Sacrament, thus the government now has the right to say what a Marriage is.
        The change was not only that Marriage is no longer a Sacrament; in fact, also change the definition of Sacrament.

        So in this way King Henry VIII, Martin Luther, and John Calvin taught Marriage is not a Sacrament, and that Sacrament means something other than what the Church teaches ,,,,,,Same As,,,,, The reprobate of today changed what Family means (Johnny and two Dads) and now the they are trying to change Marriage mean: Equal because that’s what we feel.

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